Burden and Unmet Needs with Portable Oxygen in Patients on Long-Term Oxygen Therapy

Jessica Dakkak, Wilson Tang, Jonathan T. Smith, Aparna Balasubramanian, Moriah Mattson, Ana Ainechi, Brice Dudley, Martha N. Hill, Stephen C. Mathai, Meredith C. McCormack, Soumyadipta Acharya, Sonye K. Danoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale: Over 1.5 million Americans receive long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) for the treatment of chronic hypoxemia to optimize functional status and quality of life. However, current portable oxygen equipment, including portable gas tanks (GTs), portable liquid tanks (LTs), and portable oxygen concentrators (POCs), each have limitations that can hinder patient mobility and daily activities. Objectives: To examine patient experiences with portable oxygen to guide equipment innovation and thereby improve patient care on oxygen therapy. Methods: The burden and unmet needs with portable oxygen equipment were assessed in 836 LTOT patients with chronic lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], interstitial lung disease, and pulmonary hypertension) through an online survey. The survey included a combination of multiple-choice, Likert-scale, short-answer, and open-ended questions. Distribution was achieved through patient support organizations, including the U.S. COPD Coalition, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, and the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. Results: Improvements in portability were ranked as the highest priority by patients across all equipment types, followed by increases in the duration of oxygen supply for GTs, accessibility for LTs, and flow capabilities for POCs. All device types were found to be burdensome, with the greatest burden among GT users, 51% of whom characterized GT use as “strenuous” or “extremely strenuous” (high burden). POCs ranked as the most common (61%) and least burdensome devices; however, 29% of POC users still reported a high associated burden. Forty-seven percent of POC respondents described using a POC despite it not meeting their oxygen needs to benefit from advantages over alternative equipment. Among non-POC users, limited oxygen flow rate capabilities and cost were the top reasons preventing POC use. Conclusions: Although improvements have been made to portable oxygen equipment, this study highlights the burden that remains and reveals a clear need for advances in technology to improve the functional status and quality of life of portable LTOT users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1498-1505
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Durable medical equipment
  • Equipment design
  • Hypoxia
  • Lung disease
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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